A once well-known figure in Broome’s tourist scene has been sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to more than 30 child sex offences.
Charles Batham had been on the run for nearly a decade before a ABC News the investigation led to his arrest in Italy in March last year.
In 2011, the 77-year-old Englishman was charged with 31 offenses relating to the sexual abuse of two girls in Kimberly, Western Australia, committed between 2006 and 2011 when he ran a business that transported tourists to a ultralight aircraft over Cable Beach called Broome Trike Flights.
Batham lived in an aircraft hangar near Broome International Airport where he offered to babysit two girls in a converted double-decker bus he kept at the hangar, according to an account of the sentencing of ABC News.
The court heard that hundreds of images of child exploitation were found in the hangar.
His victims, aged between eight and 12 at the time, told the court they still lived in fear because of his actions.
One said it had led to a constant fear of her own children being molested and the other said she would still fear him even when he was in jail.
“I fear that he will escape and hunt me down,” she said, according to the ABC News report.
Judge Lisa Tovey dismissed claims that Batham’s behavior was “irrelevant”, and said his offense was upheld and not “a short-term lack of judgement”.
“You chose to flee the country rather than face the consequences of your actions, in my view,” Tovey said.
“The only person whose fault it is is you. The only person who should be ashamed is you.
Batham said “absolutely” in response.
the ABC News The investigation which led Italian police to arrest Batham revealed that he had obtained a British passport under the name Charles Edwin Shannon and was able to move easily around Europe.
Broome tourist operator Robyn Maher said ABC News she had known Batham when she worked for the Broome reception center and described him as a “scary” and unpleasant person.
“I didn’t like the idea of him getting away with it, traveling overseas and not facing justice for the victims,” Maher said.
“I think it’s a good result.”
Featured image source: ABC News